The Surprising Origins of Our Favorite Sports


| LAST UPDATE 08/24/2022

By Elena White
baseball history american sports
Photo 12 / Contributor via Getty Images

Sports have a way of uniting people from all over the world. Whether it's people from conflicting countries coming together to play a game, or passionate fans connecting over the internet to support their favorite team, sports are a crucial part of society. That being said, they once did not exist in any official capacity. The U.S.'s most popular sports, basketball, football, and baseball, are watched or played by millions of people each year. However, few knew how they all began. Their rich history may surprise you... 

Unlike football and baseball, we have a very clear idea of who invented basketball. In 1891, James Naismith was attending the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Here, he, as a second-year graduate student, was working part-time as a physical education teacher. When cabin fever was taking over the group as a result of a snowstorm, Naismith was given the challenge of entertaining the students while remaining indoors. On December 21, 1891, James cleared out the gymnasium, picked up a soccer ball, set out some peach baskets, and began to explain the thirteen rules of his new sport. The first-ever official game of basketball had begun.

James Naismith Basketball History
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By football, we mean the American sport, which effectively combines the two ancient English games of rugby and soccer. This popular sport does not have an official inventor named in its history, but it generally originated in the late 19th century US at the universities. Until this point, US Football more strongly resembled rugby, and it was a man named Walter Camp, often referred to as the "Father of American Football," who transitioned the game into what we know and love it as today. The Yale medical student was a halfback who established the rules and acted as head coach. 

Baseball is another sport formed by the innovative crossbreeding of two English sports, this time, rounders and cricket. Dating back to the 18th century, baseball as we know it today began in the United States. In September 1845, a group of New Yorkers established the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club. Team member Alexander Joy Cartwright determined the list of rules and equipment that remain relevant to this day.  Check out these other moments in history that paved the way for people today.

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